The John Breckinridge Castleman statue is large, and very visible; the controversial monument’s aesthetic value and status as a neighborhood emblem was a big point of discussion in meetings about the city’s public art.
But since Mayor Greg Fischer announced yesterday that the statue would be removed, the next question is what, if anything, will be put in its place.
The city’s official line is that plans for new public art haven’t been discussed, but that any new proposals would be evaluated using the city’s new principles and guidelines.
Basically, those principles say new monuments should increase the diversity of figures and histories depicted in Louisville. And also, that whenever possible, the city should pursue the conservation of historic sites rather than the celebration of historic figures.
Because of that, the Castleman statue probably won’t be replaced with another huge statue of a person.
Matt Weir, a local sculptor and foundry owner, says creating a similar statue would be a really expensive undertaking.
“A large piece like that, today, if it were done in the lost wax casting process, could justifiably be up in the half a million dollar range,” he said.
But, Weir said, that’s not going to be the most difficult part of the process of commissioning new public artwork.
“I think what it could be is a huge range of things, and what it could cost is also that,” Weir said. “But the idea is going to be the most important thing and what will maybe take the most time.”
The Castleman statue should be removed by the end of the year. The city is in talks with one possible relocation site: Cave Hill Cemetery.